Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.


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Future Plans For the Site
28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
7/1/2010 20:09


If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request



Outta Nowhere, Here Comes The Witcher! PC Time...
Posted by Diggler - 14/11/2007 12:42

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A brand new Polish-developed single player RPG of the Bioware vein, not only does The Witcher look truly gorgeous - as you can see - but boasts a musical score better than most films. But how's she play?
On first firing up The Witcher, I had it pegged for another sub-standard budget-ware piece o' RPG shite, not unlike Two Worlds or Gothic III. The opening hour, which introduces the characters, sets up the story and acts as one never ending tutorial, is so god damn awful you see, it's almost enough to make one wish he'd bought Hellgate instead. Almost.

Before we get into all that though, let's set the scene. A single player RPG for the PC, The Witcher sees you playing the role of Geralt, who as the title subtly hints at, is a renowned "Witcher". What the shit's a Witcher, you ask? Half human, half witch. That's a lie. More half human, half wolf-mutant thing, who as a side bonus, is also blessed with superhuman abilities. Crazy strength, mad skills, Force-like powers...and if you play your character anything like mine, mammoth cock size too. Witchers are essentially medieval Jedi, similarly set upon ridding the world of evil and acting as peacekeepers, the prime difference being they charge money for it. Smart.

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Like all good RPGs, Witch boasts its own fully featured gambling mini-game, an addictive variant of poker...with dice
Sadly for him, when we first meet poor Geralt, he's not only laying half dead in the woods, but's also struck down with plot-fuelling amnesia. Although unsure where he is nor how he got there, his old Witcher pals promptly - and conveniently - show up, drag him home, and nurse him back to health, with the game proper kicking in thereafter. Here a memory-less Geralt re-learns how to fight, quizzes friends on his murky past, and familiarizes himself with the ways of The Witch. I smell a tutorial!

Unfortunately for the game, this entire prologue is plagued with truly disastrous voice-acting, cringe-worth dialogue and hysterically bad animation, rendering it about on par with The Thunderbirds for conviction. Part of this may be The Witcher's roots as a Polish game, suffering from localization issues and subsequently odd dialogue choices, but I fear it's more down to the horrific actors filling its various roles. Ye old English meets grating American accents and conspicuously contemporary dialect that you may well hear at your local Tescos on the average beer run, and it doesn't work. At all.

I was ready to burn The Witcher at the stake then, pitchforks and fire in tow, but I pushed on, regardless, determined to see the initial hour through if nothing else. Which would be about 58 minutes longer than I managed with Two Worlds.

Ya know what? I'm glad I did too...

Clean Slate

As this extended tutorial draws to an end, the Witchers' base is set upon by evil-doers, peeps get fucked up, and Geralt is promptly sent off to seek revenge on those responsible. The oddest thing happens here however. With the stilted prologue concluded, and the lame intro characters vanquished - in particular the god-awful Triss - The Witcher becomes, well, good. Damn good in fact. I'm talking all but Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate II, Bioware-at-the-top-of-their-game good. Seriously.

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Along with its central plot, The Witcher boasts an endless stream of side quests too. Expect a good 40 hours o' game
It uses the old Neverwinter engine at its core incidentally, heavily spruced up to make use of physics, motion blur and all those fancy effects we've since come to expect, and despite the somewhat iffy animations mentioned above, it looks and performs amazingly. It may boast somewhat clichéd fantasy views on the face of it - your green forests, your grey castles, and a relentless stream of cobbled, medieval streets - but there's a detail, richness and a realism here only the very best RPGs truly nail. Even in its busier moments, framerate remains consistent, so much so that one can't believe this is the same infamous tech pushing around the sellotaped-together Neverwinter Nights 2. You feel DeLoreaned about twenty years into the future by comparison.

Despite my Neverwinter name-dropping, note The Witcher plays itself differently though. Plumping for a more cinematic (and flat-out exciting) over-the-shoulder camera, it's considerably more fast-paced and action-packed next to the vintage D&Ders of old. While stats play their role of course, combat's quasi real-time and twitchy you see, combining traditional click-to-attack shenanigans with - oddly enough - a minor rhythm game slant. You have to click at specific points to pull off the more damaging attacks, and while confusing and odd at first, it works rather well when you get the hang of it. Nailing four or five consecutive hits in this way, sees Geralt pulling off the most awe-inspiring, Chow Yun-Fat-style combos, in arguably the one single area in which the game truly shines, animation-wise.

As you level up and progress, new moves, stances, combinations and weapons throw themselves into the mix, with battles soon looking less game, more heavily-choreographed action flick. Battling numerous combatants at once with screams, blood, and heads flying off in every direction just ain't the sorta sight you normally expect in an RPG.

And, umm...it's pretty fucking cool.

Pixel Tits

That ain't all, as there's a whole other side to The Witcher worthy of immense praise. The game is dark, you see. It's mature. It's brutal. It's pretty damn hardcore, even. Those who dug the bugged semi-classic Vampire: Bloodlines should sit up and pay attention here, because this is far and away the closest a game's come yet to matching that game's grit.

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Geralt ain't your typical hero. His personality varies depending on choice, naturally, but the guy in general seems way more womanizing, mean and a fuckin' hard bastard than the standard gaming fare. Even so-called "good" dialogue choices drift more towards Bauer-isms
Characters swear their mouths off, there's plenty o' good old nakedness, and as far as I know, it's the only game in existence to boast immortal lines like, "Your mother sucks dwarf cock!" and "I fucked a she-Elf once". Unless you count public chat in World of Warcraft.

I even banged my first broad in the first hour, and it was by no means my last. That this coincided with my sudden change of heart towards the game, means nothing. Honest. It goes beyond simple gratuitousness though; there's some pleasingly adult themes and twists here. In The Witcher's world for example, Elves and Dwarves are considered minorities, the subject of vile racism and endless insults. You'll have some intriguing moral choices to make along these lines, and while there's no dark/light side path per se, there are definite repercussions for your actions. Some you may not realise 'til a good ten hours later.

Along with the aforementioned minorities, Witchers themselves are even somewhat looked down upon, like some kinda cursed freaks to be feared by the masses, despite their being simultaneously sought after in times of need. This alone provides a pleasing twist on the standard idolized hero figure, and is a prime example of The Witcher's ability to take things in a...slightly more original direction than most.

The stilted awkwardness and stream of non-sequiturs from the god-awful prologue regularly rear their head more often than one would have liked - often rendering this stuff less potent than it ideally should have been - but a good 15 hours in at this point, the game's already touched upon the likes of political intrigue, child abduction, murder and rape...all pretty head-on, at that.

I even fucked a witch. Covered in blood.

Burn Her!!!

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Witch's got the whole Fable-esque real-world vibe going on. NPCs function on a proper day/night cycle, chatting, working and sleeping as they should. At one point it spontaneously broke out in rain, and they all ran indoors
With that in mind, it sure is refreshing to experience an all-too-rare game aimed at a slightly older demographic than most. My biggest gripe with the game however - besides the Jekyll & Hyde-esque opening hour - is something far more mundane I'm afraid. Frankly, the load times are disastrous. Jumping from interior to exterior sees you twiddling thumbs for way too long, too frequently, and just a simple "quick"-save can last up to a whopping great 15 seconds on top. My stop-watch doth not lie. This is all one humongous downer I'm sad to say, and grows incredibly tiresome when playing for extended periods of time. Or longer than five minutes.

Regardless of Dig's video-game ADD, The Witcher's a splendid surprise for the most part though. A mean, adult-focused RPG that mixes intense, enjoyable combat, and intriguingly mature themes with just a damn impressive world for you to explore on top. The day/night cycles, the wealth of side content, and the pleasing emphasis of moral choice spruce it up way beyond its peers of late, resulting in, for me, the best single player RPG to hit the PC since Oblivion.

Those anxiously awaiting the long-in-the-works Dragon Age next year, could do a hell of a lot worse than dig out The Witcher in the meantime then, content in the fact that while it may have some iffy voice acting and be a little rough around the edges, it has, in fact, beaten Bioware to the punch in many of that game's much-hyped goals...

Although I fully expect the boys to bounce back in style with Mass Effect next week.

UPDATE: Since release, patches have improved The Witcher's load times hugely. While still not perfect, it's significantly more playable as a result, and the score's been updated to reflect that. Fab game.

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The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

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Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff


Matt Robinson, 2011

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